A grand night for Elgins Williams
Though he topped 1,000 career points early in Thursday's 53-52 victory over Dundee-Crown, achieving that milestone was not the highlight of the evening for what-will-he-do-next Elgin point guard Arie Williams.
One night after Williams hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from half court to beat Francis W. Parker, the 5-foot-8 senior sank a fadeaway jumper from the right corner with 14 seconds left to send the host Maroons to the semifinals of their own tournament for the third consecutive season.
Dundee-Crown (8-2) led by a point but missed a chance to extend its lead by missing 2 free throws with 31 seconds left, par for the course on a night when the Chargers made only 14 of 27 free throws.
Elgin (8-6) grabbed the rebound and attacked without calling timeout. Williams had the ball initially but was forced to give it up due to a double team. He got it back on the right wing seconds later, drove toward the right corner to gain clearance and hoisted a contested fadeaway on the run with three Chargers closing in on him.
Nothing but net.
"That's the main thing my coaches have been talking about, give it up and trust my teammates to get the ball back to me," Williams said. "They gave it back to me and I got the shot off. I didn't want to lose. I knew that shot was going in."
"He wasn't trying to go 1-on-2 or 1-on-3," Elgin coach Mike Sitter said. "He gave it up. A couple of passes later he got it back in a position where he could do something with it. He wouldn't have done that a couple of weeks ago, so that's fantastic. He's a very coachable kid."
Though Wednesday's game winner came from a longer distance, the degree of difficulty on Thursday's game winner was just as high if not higher due to its contested nature.
"He made a (heck) of a shot," D-C coach Lance Huber said. "Everybody in the gym knew he was going to take it. Everybody on this team knew he was going to take it. He had three guys on him and he made a shot. That's what it came down to. If he's not the best player in the area, I don't know who is."
Elgin led 16-8 after a quarter, 29-25 at the half and 42-36 after three quarters, but Dundee-Crown's 11-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters gave the Chargers their first lead of the game. Brandon Rodriguez (19 points) capped the surge with a fast-break layup and a putback.
D-C led 51-44 with 2:55 left, but Elgin charged back with 7 straight points from Williams, including a 3-pointer from the top of the arc that pulled the Maroons within 52-51 with 59 seconds left.
Elgin will face Las Vegas Centennial in the second semifinal today at 8:15 p.m. Dundee-Crown will play in the consolation bracket at 1:45 p.m.
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